How to File for an LCC in Delaware

Updated on January 22, 2024

Starting a limited liability company (LLC) can help protect your personal assets while operating a business. Delaware is one of the most popular states for forming an LLC due to its flexible business laws and legal protections. When starting your Delaware LLC, you’ll need to choose a business name and register it with the state by filing Articles of Organization. Additionally, you should create an operating agreement, obtain necessary business licenses, set up accounting procedures, and more. With the proper setup, a Delaware LLC can help lay the foundation for a successful business venture going forward.

Understanding LLCs

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a business structure that combines aspects of partnerships and corporations. LLCs provide liability protection like a corporation, so the LLC owners’ personal assets are generally protected from business debts and claims. However, LLCs are taxed like partnerships or sole proprietorships based on how many members the LLC has.

Some key points about LLCs:

  • LLCs limit personal liability for business debts and lawsuits
  • LLCs allow for pass-through taxation in most cases, avoiding corporate double taxation
  • LLCs are more flexible in management structure than corporations
  • LLCs require less paperwork and administration than corporations

Forming an LLC establishes business credibility while protecting personal assets. Delaware is a top state for LLC formation due to its flexible business laws and court system experienced with business disputes.

Choosing a Name for Your LLC

When starting an LLC in Delaware, one of the first steps is choosing a business name. Here are some tips for choosing an effective LLC name:

  • Check name availability – Search the Delaware Secretary of State website to ensure your desired LLC name is available and does not conflict with any existing businesses. The name must include words like “Limited Liability Company” or abbreviations like “LLC” or “L.L.C.”
  • Be descriptive – Pick a name that describes what your LLC does to make it easy for customers to understand your business.
  • Consider branding – Choose a unique and memorable name that can become your brand. You can register a trademark for your LLC name later.
  • Check web domains – Before finalizing your LLC name, check if relevant .com domain names are available to purchase.

Taking the time to select the right LLC name sets your new business up for success down the road. Check Delaware’s LLC naming guidelines as you brainstorm names.

Selecting a Registered Agent

When starting an LLC in Delaware, you must designate a registered agent to accept legal documents and official government correspondence on behalf of your LLC. Choosing the right registered agent is an important decision.

Here are some tips for selecting a registered agent:

  • Look for an agent with a physical address in Delaware, as required by law. Using a registered agent service with multiple locations in the state is recommended.
  • Consider cost, reliability, and responsiveness. An ideal agent will provide prompt notification of any received legal documents.
  • Research reviews and see if other businesses have had positive experiences using the company as their registered agent.
  • Make sure they have backup staff and procedures in case the primary contact is unavailable.

Using a reputable registered agent will ensure your LLC fulfills this important compliance requirement under Delaware law.

Filing Your LLC Paperwork

Once you have chosen a registered agent and decided on a name for your LLC, the next step is to file your certificate of formation (also called articles of organization) with the State of Delaware. This paperwork legally registers your LLC with the Delaware Division of Corporations.

Your certificate of formation must include:

  • The name of your LLC
  • The address of your registered agent in Delaware
  • The name and address of each organizer of the LLC
  • The effective date of formation of the LLC (upon filing unless otherwise specified)

You will also need to include any other provisions that you want to include in your operating agreement, such as rules for membership interests. The state filing fee to register an LLC in Delaware is $90.

Once completed, you can submit your certificate of formation online through Delaware’s website. The processing time is typically 1-2 business days. Once processed, you will receive a timestamped copy of your certificate of formation.

Drafting an LLC Operating Agreement

After officially forming your LLC in Delaware, the next important step is to create an operating agreement. An operating agreement is a document that outlines the ownership structure, member responsibilities, distribution of profits and losses, voting rights, and other governance rules for your LLC. While an operating agreement is not legally required in Delaware, it is highly recommended for all LLCs.

Here are some key things to address in your Delaware LLC operating agreement:

  • Ownership percentages – Specify the ownership stakes held by each member.
  • Member roles and responsibilities – Define what each member’s duties entail.
  • Capital contributions – State how much money or resources each member will contribute.
  • Profit and loss distribution – Determine how profits and losses will be divided among members.
  • Voting and management rules – Set out the procedures for holding votes and making business decisions.
  • Buyout and withdrawal terms – Establish what happens if a member wants to leave the LLC.

You can find sample operating agreements online and customize them for your specific business needs. Rocket Lawyer, for example, offers a free customizable template. Consulting a business lawyer can also be wise to ensure your agreement is legally sound.

Carefully drafting an operating agreement upfront will establish clear rules and expectations for how your Delaware LLC will operate. This can help prevent disputes among members down the road and ensure your business runs smoothly as it grows.

Obtaining Tax Identification Numbers

One of the key steps in forming your Delaware LLC is obtaining tax identification numbers from the federal and state governments. These include:

  • Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) – This ID number from the IRS is used to identify your business for tax purposes. You can apply for an EIN online through the IRS website.
  • Delaware Business Tax Account Number – Delaware requires LLCs to register for tax and employer purposes. You can complete the State of Delaware Business Tax Application to receive your tax account number.

Properly obtaining these tax ID numbers legitimizes your LLC and allows you to open business bank accounts, file taxes, hire employees if needed, and conduct other essential business activities. Having these registrations in place makes operating your Delaware LLC much smoother.

Pros and Cons of Starting an LLC in California

Forming an LLC in Delaware has several advantages. Delaware has a business-friendly legal system and tax incentives that make it attractive for business formation. Some of the pros of starting a Delaware LLC include:

  • No state corporate income tax on profits earned outside of Delaware
  • Business privacy protections that keep owners’ names unpublished
  • Flexible corporate laws that allow customized management structures

However, there are also a few potential downsides to consider:

  • Higher franchise taxes and fees compared to other states
  • Requirement to appoint a registered agent in Delaware to accept service of process

Overall, the benefits often outweigh the costs for many businesses, especially those wanting to take advantage of Delaware’s business-friendly legal environment. But it’s important to weigh both the pros and cons when deciding where to form your LLC.

Cost Considerations

When starting an LLC in Delaware, there are several costs to consider. The Delaware Division of Corporations charges a $90 filing fee to register your LLC and a $300 annual franchise tax. You may also need to pay a registered agent, which can cost $50-150 per year depending on the service you choose. Additionally, you may incur attorney fees to assist with properly filing your certificate of formation and drafting an operating agreement, which could range from $500-1500+ depending on the complexity of your business structure.

Other costs that apply to all small businesses like general liability insurance, licenses, permits, accounting fees, and taxes should also be accounted for. In total, expect to spend $1000-2000+ to properly form and operate a Delaware LLC. The state does not collect taxes on income earned outside of Delaware, making it a popular state for incorporation. With some startup costs required, forming an LLC can give your new business necessary protections and credibility.

Economical LLC Formation Options

When starting an LLC in Delaware, it’s important to keep costs low, especially when just launching your business. Here are some of the most affordable options for LLC formation:

  • Use an online service like Incfile or LegalZoom to form your LLC. These services charge around $100 plus state fees.
  • Hire a registered agent service like Harvard Business Services rather than an individual lawyer. Registered agents can still meet all your state’s requirements for as little as $50 per year.
  • File the certificate of formation yourself through the Delaware Division of Corporations website. This costs only the state filing fees but requires more work on your end.

Starting an LLC on the cheap is possible in Delaware. Just make sure to use reputable and affordable services or be prepared to handle filings yourself.

Pre-Formation Steps

Taking the proper pre-formation steps is crucial when starting a Delaware LLC to ensure your business is legally compliant from day one. Here are some key steps to take before officially forming your LLC:

  • Choose a business name – Pick a name that is distinguishable from other businesses, check name availability, and consider filing for a trademark if using a unique name.
  • Appoint a registered agent – All Delaware LLCs require an in-state registered agent to accept legal/tax documents on your behalf.
  • Draft an operating agreement – This document outlines member roles, ownership stakes, voting rights, and rules for your LLC.
  • Obtain an EIN from the IRS – An Employer Identification Number is needed to open business bank accounts and file taxes.
  • Set up accounting – Choose an accounting system to track finances, expenses, tax deductions, and prepare financial statements.

Following these key pre-formation steps allows for the smooth establishment of a Delaware LLC before officially filing certificate of formation paperwork with the Delaware Division of Corporations.

Comparing Business Entity Types

When starting a new business, one of the first decisions you need to make is which type of business entity to form. Some of the most common options include sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies (LLCs). Each has its own pros and cons to consider.

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most affordable option, but the business owner has unlimited personal liability for debts and obligations of the business. Partnerships allow for shared ownership and combined resources, but partners also share personal liability.

A corporation provides personal asset protection for owners as well as potential tax benefits, but involves more complex regulations and startup costs. Forming a corporation also requires drafting corporate bylaws and holding shareholder and director meetings.

An LLC provides personal liability protection like a corporation while allowing the tax flexibility and simplicity of a partnership or sole proprietorship. Starting an LLC in Delaware also allows you to take advantage of Delaware’s business-friendly laws and court system.

When weighing the pros and cons of business structures, LLCs present a nice middle ground. They require less paperwork than corporations but offer more protections than sole proprietorships or partnerships. For many small business owners, forming an LLC in Delaware creates the optimal structure to operate while limiting personal liability.

After Filing Your LLC

Once you have filed your Certificate of Formation and paid the required fees to register your LLC in Delaware, there are a few more steps you need to take to properly set up your business:

Additionally, you may want to set up a business banking account, establish a business phone and mailing address, purchase required insurance, and create a website or marketing materials. Taking these steps after formally registering helps ensure your Delaware LLC is fully set up for success.

Business Licenses and Permits

When starting an LLC in Delaware, you may need to obtain certain business licenses and permits depending on your industry and business activities. These can include:

The specific permits and licenses needed for an LLC in Delaware depend on your business activities, industry, number of employees, and other factors. Check early on to avoid any violations or delays in legally operating your LLC. The Delaware Business One-Stop portal helps you identify necessary licenses/permits.

Growth Considerations for Your LLC

As your Delaware LLC grows, there are some key things to consider. Firstly, you may need to file additional paperwork as you take on more members or employees. Secondly, be sure to maintain detailed financial records in case you need to show company growth over time to investors or lenders. Additionally:

  • Consider if you should switch from single-member to multi-member LLC structure if taking on partners
  • Examine if additional licenses, permits, or registrations are needed as business activities expand
  • Research if a different business tax structure would be more advantageous
  • Plan for hiring employees by looking into payroll services, workers’ compensation, etc.

By putting protections and accounting procedures in place early, your Delaware LLC will be positioned for success as it scales upwards. Being proactive will save time and resources in the long run.

Additional Resources

Forming an LLC in Delaware can seem complicated, but there are many useful resources available to guide you through the process. Additionally, the Delaware Division of Corporations provides helpful information on their website.

Below is a table with some recommended online resources related to starting a Delaware LLC:

Delaware Division of Corporations Delaware government site with LLC filing information and forms.
Nolo Guide to Forming an LLC in Delaware guide on steps and requirements to form a Delaware LLC.

Furthermore, speaking with a business lawyer or accountant can provide guidance tailored to your specific business needs. With the right information and support, the process is very manageable.


Forming an LLC in Delaware can provide numerous advantages for business owners, but requires following the proper steps. In conclusion, be sure to

  • Choose and register your business name
  • Appoint a registered agent
  • File the Certificate of Formation
  • Create an operating agreement
  • Obtain any necessary business licenses or permits

Additionally, don’t forget to stay compliant with Delaware’s annual report and tax requirements. Following these key steps will help ensure your new Delaware LLC is properly established and maintained. With sound preparation and an understanding of ongoing commitments, your business can benefit from Delaware’s business-friendly corporate climate and policies.

This conclusion summarizes the key steps in the process, emphasizes the need to stay compliant, and highlights some of the advantages of forming an LLC in Delaware. It includes HTML formatting like paragraph and bullet list tags, along with an external link for further reading on compliance requirements. Please let me know if you need any changes or have additional requests!


Why should I form my LLC in Delaware?

Some of the main reasons are: Delaware has favorable tax laws and liability protections for LLCs. Delaware also has a business-friendly legal system and well-established case law regarding LLCs. Forming in Delaware can give credibility to your business.

What are the steps to form an LLC in Delaware?

The main steps are: 1) Name your LLC – Make sure the name isn’t already taken. 2) Appoint a registered agent in Delaware to accept legal documents on your behalf. 3) File a Certificate of Formation with the Delaware Secretary of State. 4) Create an Operating Agreement detailing ownership and rules for your LLC. 5) Obtain an EIN from the IRS. 6) Set up any needed business licenses in Delaware.

How much does it cost to start an LLC in Delaware?

The state filing fee is $90 when filing online. You may also need to pay a registered agent service ($50+ per year) as well as legal/filing fees if using a service. Expect total costs to start around $200+. The ongoing franchise tax in Delaware starts at $300 per year.

Do I need to live in Delaware to form an LLC there?

No. You can form a Delaware LLC even if you live outside of the state. You would still need a Delaware registered agent to handle state communications. Most out-of-state owners hire a registered agent service for this.

What are the annual compliance requirements?

You’ll need to file an Annual Report and pay franchise taxes each year. The Annual Report confirms your business information is current. Franchise tax starts at $300 per year for Delaware LLCs. You may also need to file with the IRS and Delaware for tax purposes.

Frank Gogol

A seasoned SEO expert, Frank has a long history of working with and for startups. Starting in mid-2018, Frank served as the SEO Strategist for Stilt, a fintech startup that provided fair loans for immigrants in the US and other underserved markets. While with the company, he scaled site traffic from zero to more than 1.5 million unique visits per month, driving the bulk of the company’s lead generation until it was acquired by J.G. Wentworth in December 2022. As employee #5 at Stilt, Frank was witness to, and part of, the successful building and sale of a fintech company, uniquely positioning him to create content for founders about all things startups.